Ironman Mallorca 70.3

Apologies for the delay with the updates! I am currently in full revision mode for exams and the break to Mallorca took a few days from that.

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I travelled to Mallorca On Wednesday 6th May from Shannon with a group of teammates from GoTri, my twin sister and the lovely Marie Tríona Keane a triathlete with Belpark TC whom I had just met at the airport! A group of 10 Gotri athletes had targeted this race and made the commitment to train from October last year. They hit nearly every session and so were going over very excited and eager to race. I, however, had not done anything for this distance. My focus is on Olympic and Sprint distance racing but as I had an entry for 70.3 Mallorca I was tempted to do it. I haven’t been able to train as much as I would like at the minute and so I wasn’t even going to do this event, maybe just do the swim. I decided only Tuesday to actually do the full thing- if anything it was going to be a good training session and my coach wanted me to get a 90k cycle at threshold in (if he told me to do it at home I’d think he was mad… The last 90km cycle I had done was back in January !) At the minute, if I manage 5 days of something I am happy (this will change considerably come end of exams J ). The flight was a barrel of laughs as I was sandwiched between our token Aussie star David Coleman and the bullet Becky Coughlan (who ran a blinder on race day!). Dave Ahern, our delicate lily, who is more accustomed to 1st class wining and dining was nicely placed at the back end of the Ryanair flight (although he managed to get 3 seats to himself to make a bed…it would only happen to him)

Thursday 7th May

The bikes had gone ahead the week before with ShipMyTriBike so all we needed to do today was register and pick up the gear bags from the SMTB truck. The excitement from the group at registration was infectious and I began to look forward to Saturday! Some collected their bikes but all I wanted was my wetsuit so I could get in and swim the course! Some wanted to cycle but I never do much before a race. I jogged with Declan and Rachel and did a swim. Then chilled out by the pool for the evening.

Friday 8th May

Early morning run with Declan and Rachel before a short 20minute sea swim to get used to the wetsuit and practice race exit runs (it’s difficult when you’re fun-size to get the legs turning over in the water). Doing this run through helped me out incredibly on race day! Bike check in and gear drop was scheduled for 2.30 along with race brief afterwards. My Planet X exocet was shining and I was delighted to get it off the truck and jump into the saddle. Lots of curious by-standers were coming over to inspect the PlanetX-Carnac team colours and it was like a beacon in transition- there would be no issue running to my bike. After race brief I was feeling tired and sick of being n my feet in the heat so it was back to the hotel for a snooze by the pool. Rachel and I set out all our bags before bed as you need to be meticulous in your gear check. I made a list so I knew what was in transition and I had jellies, suncream +small 250ml bottle of water in both my bike+run bag.

Saturday 9th May-Race day

Mallorca 70.3 group shot

I slept on and off so I was just glad to hear the alarm so I could get up. I couldn’t stop running through the swim- entry, exit, buoy count, run to transition (it’s 1km!). I couldn’t eat at breakfast for the first time ever and Rachel was literally shoving food into me- thanks Sis. We walked up to transition with the team and coach STL. No one was showing signs of nerves although I felt sick- I had no training done for this and it was going to hurt! In transition Aussie Dave looked after myself and Rachel’s bikes (thanks Dave!). It was class having Rachel right beside me and she was unbelievably excited which helped me get excited. She kept joking about how easy it was going to be to get her things “all I have to do it look for a gap sure”. We walked down to the swim start together and lined up at the front side by side. A Million Voices by Otto Knows came on during the 4minute count down to the start and once I heard it I knew it was a sign that a good day was in store. Coach just wanted me to enjoy my swim and bike- “do your best and after that I don’t mind. This is just training and the mileage isn’t done”. 70.3 is far from our focus.

Swim: The gun went off and Ironman 70.3 Mallorca was underway! I had a great swim entry and I was in clear water by 300m. No one was tapping my feet so I needed to just swim my own race. I focused on catching as many pro females as I could after the turnaround. Counting down the buoys I was gearing up for the swim exit- I popped up at the very last minute and exited running past another female pro. I never look back racing so I didn’t know how much of a gap I had but I couldn’t hear any cheers coming from the swim exit and transition was deserted so I must have done ok. I found my gear-bag no problem- wetsuit off, sock on, and run. I had no trouble locating my Planet X and the transition was fluid. Flying mount and out I went on the roads of Alcudia.

Mallorca 70.3 Carolyn Hayes IRL swim entry

Bike: I felt good for the early part of the race and given my lack of cycle time I said if I make it to 20km with no one passing I’ve improved. In hindsight I wish I had have trained for this….it could have been much more enjoyable! There was no one on the road ahead or behind- a few marshals and supports now and again and always a passing bike marshal! If I make it to 40km I’ve improved…60km…still no one. At 70km I passed a male pro. I had Calvin Harries ‘Pray to God’ in my head for the whole cycle but I couldn’t get passed the second line! I was having a great bike and the further I got the better I felt. Nutrition was 3 gels (High5IsoGel) and half a banana picked up from the aid stations (which weren’t even ready for me as I was a lone soldier!). I stuck to water not wanting to tempt faith on the run…I re-entered Alcudia and got the feet out ready to dismount. I was first non-pro in from the bike and it was class to hear it announced. My legs felt good running from my bike to grab the run bag but I knew this was the bit that would hurt the most- my longest run to date is 12km. Normally I am glad to get off the bike in one piece and start into the run but today I was not looking forward to doing my longest run in God knows how long in the Spanish heat.

Mallorca 70.3 Exocet TT shot

Run: I exited transition like I was doing an Olympic (much too fast…I never learn) my first km was 10km race pace and then I settled down. I was on my own again just bopping along and feeding off all the supporters who came out for the race. I heard feet coming up behind me and thought I must be caught by the age-groups but it was none other than Daniela Ryf! We exchanged words of encouragement and as she passed and I decided to run with her for a bit (Good call/Bad call I was going to blow up anyway so I might as well enjoy having someone like her to chase!). She turned in for her finish and I set about trying to hold on to some run form. My Mum and Dad were along the course near the turning point and it was awesome to have them both cheering for Rachel and I. GoTri supporters were dotted on the course too shouting us on-I waved the first lap and then I couldn’t wave anymore. When the watch hit 15km I was starting to feel the lack of running endurance and by my final 5km I couldn’t acknowledge them as I was deep in the red zone. I entered the finishing shoot (which was empty!?) and crossed the line delighted to have finished. I heard on the speaker I was the fastest female age-grouper home so that perked me up! Daniela Ryf came over to congratulate me again at the finish and it meant a lot (if only I had the phone for a selfie… J ) After that I hit the bottle ASAP- WATER WATER WATER! Race day temp was now 31 degrees. The finish was still empty so I went over for a much needed physio massage and lie down. Once the team started to cross the line we hit the sea to bathe the legs and recount the whole race to one another. Everyone made it home safe and sound!

I headed to the awards ceremony and I thought back to last year when Aileen Flynn was the top-age grouper standing up on the podium and the Piranha crew were there (it was quieter without you all this year!). The DJ was firing out the tunes though…When they called out my name I got a really nice introduction and it was lovely to step up to the top spot. I won my age group by over 15minutes beating last year’s winner and Kona regular from team Staysky. All the GoTri gang came down for the ceremony (I expected it to just be Rachel and I as everyone was tired and very hungry!) and that meant a lot to me.

All in all it was a great day and it was a great overall team performance from GoTri- Coach was relatively happy I think! I want to say a massive thank you once again to my super sponsors Planet X for believing in me and supporting my racing. The Exocet 2 was a dream over the 90km TT and the HEDwheels definitely completed the awesome bike set-up! Massive thanks to High5Nutrition too for fueling me! And lastly, my twin sis Rachel deserves a medal for putting up with me (and I one for answering all her triathlon questions lol)

Next on the cards is the race to cram for exams and then getting myself back into training mode.

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